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Best SEO Courses Online – Free & Paid Options

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Earning a degree is a good thing for some professions. After all, you wouldn’t want a doctor who learned his trade via YouTube videos taking out your appendix, would you? Of course not.

But for other professions, you can learn just as much, if not more, than a college curriculum’s worth online for a fraction of the cost. Search engine optimization is one of those things.

That’s not to say there’s no value in an SEO specialist earning a degree – any education is a good thing, particularly if it’s in a related field like computer science, marketing, or communications.

But as you probably know, the SEO field is in a constant state of flux. And it’s more than competitors tweaking their strategies to jump ahead of you; it’s also regular and sometimes major changes to Google’s search algorithm.

If you’re just getting started in SEO, you’re a mid-level professional looking to add tools to your toolbox, or even a seasoned veteran seeking the latest tricks, we’ve got just the thing.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best online SEO courses available, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

Free SEO Courses

SEO Certification Course (HubSpot)

A marketing and sales software developer, HubSpot always thinks of marketers’ needs. And that includes its SEO Certification Course. It covers the basics of SEO, including evaluating your current site, building backlinks, and performing keyword research.

Length: Under three hours for six total lessons

SEO Training Course: Learn How To Get Organic Traffic From Search (Ahrefs)

Another SEO software tools provider, Ahrefs, offers a free course for SEO beginners. This program starts from scratch, explaining why SEO is important and guiding participants through the basics of keyword research, page optimization, and beginning technical SEO.

Length: 14 lessons over two hours

Free SEO Training: SEO For Beginners (Yoast)

The makers of the popular SEO plugin for WordPress want to help you learn more about SEO with a free online course. Yoast’s program is designed to quickly equip you with the knowledge you need to impact your site’s ranking as quickly as possible positively.

Length: Two hours

SEO Training For Beginners (Shopify)

When it comes to ecommerce, Shopify is the big dog on the block. To help online retailers maximize their impact and revenue, Shopify offers free SEO training for beginners. With its focus on digital shopping, this course is ideal for entrepreneurs.

Length: 16 lessons in just over one hour

On-Page And Technical SEO Course (Semrush)

The makers of keyword research and analytics tool Semrush offer a course for intermediate SEO professionals covering on-page and technical SEO. Upon completion of this, you can test for certification.

Length: Seven lessons in one hour

Intro To Search Engine Optimization (WordPress)

Popular blogging platform WordPress offers an entry-level course to introduce you to the fundamentals of SEO. Content is available on-demand, and you will receive a certificate of completion.

SEO Basics (Conductor)

Conductor offers several free SEO courses, including SEO Basics, Paid & Organic Synergy, and Evangelizing SEO. All are intended to help you maximize your digital marketing strategy and increase search rankings.

Length: 1:30 for SEO basics

A Beginner’s Guide To Local SEO (BrightLocal)

Local SEO puts you in front of customers right when they’re looking for you – which means it’s really important. This course from BrightLocal Academy will equip you with the knowledge and skills to start showing up on those searches conducted in your neighborhood.

Length: Eight lessons + certification in roughly one hour

Google SEO Fundamentals (Coursera/University Of California, Davis)

This course, designed by UC Davis, will help you quickly get up to speed on the basics of search engine optimization. It includes information on developing a strategy, keyword research, and search behavior.

Length: 11 videos, eight hours to complete

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization (Coursera/University Of California, Davis)

More in-depth than this previous one, this program will teach you how to perform competitive analysis, develop influencer relationships, and create reports on your findings.

Length: Five courses

Paid SEO Courses

Free is always a great thing, but if you’re looking for something a little more serious and focused, it might be worth your time to invest in a paid course. Here are some of the best ones:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Training Course (Simplilearn)

Simplilearn is an online “boot camp” educator. Its Advanced SEO Course is intended to prepare you for a role as a full-stack SEO professional. This in-depth program focuses on everything from the basics of the search field to advanced skills like off-page optimization, developing a content marketing strategy, and managing analytics.

Length: 58 lessons ranging from under five minutes to roughly an hour and a half.

Price: Self-paced learning – $1,199, online boot camp – $1,499

SEO Essentials Certification (Moz)

SEO software provider Moz offers a wide variety of training options through its Moz Academy. Of particular interest is the SEO Essentials Certification. This course is intended to provide you with the knowledge you need to get started in SEO, including developing an understanding of how search engines operate.

Length: Six hours of instructor-guided content

Price: $595

Technical SEO Certification (Moz)

Looking for something more advanced? This on-demand course is designed to equip you with the skills you need to take your technical SEO expertise from beginner to intermediate. You’ll learn about crawlability, indexability, accessibility, and site performance.

Length: Three hours of instructor-led content

Price: $395

SEO Competitive Analysis Certification (Moz)

Yet another Moz Academy course intended for intermediate to advanced SEO professionals, this on-demand program will teach you how to identify and analyze your competitors’ SEO campaigns, conduct audits, and evaluate your rivals’ social media presence.

Length: Three hours of instructor-led content

Price: $395

SEO Certification (ClickMinded)

An online continuing education platform for marketing professionals, ClickMinded offers an SEO certification course designed with busy professionals in mind. It will teach you the basics of search engine optimization, and upon passing the final exam, you’ll be awarded certification. It also includes lifetime access to five mini-SEO courses.

Length: Three to six hours

Price: Single courses from $997

Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training (Market Motive/Simplilearn)

This in-depth SEO course goes far beyond the fundamentals, helping you take your skills to the next level. A bigger time investment than some courses on this list, it is intended to be a comprehensive course on all things SEO.

Length: 25+ hours

Price: Self-paced learning for $1,199, online boot camp for $1,499

SEO 101 (DistilledU)

Learn everything from basic skills to advanced concepts in this online university. SEO 101 focuses on how search engines work and the skills and principles you need to know to improve your ranking.

Length: Eight modules over 32+ hours

Price: $40/month paid monthly; $33/month paid annually

SEO Training (Bruce Clay)

Bruce Clay programmed the world’s first webpage analysis tool. Now, he’s sharing his expertise in search engine optimization via SEOTraining.com. This exhaustive course is learn-at-your-own-pace and features everything from beginning SEO training to advanced tactics.

Length: 15+ hours over 48 videos

Price: $1,495 for a one-year membership

SEO Basics (SERanking)

This structured online course is designed to walk you through every aspect of SEO and show you how to make it work for you. SERanking also offers a course on Content SEO to further expand your knowledge.

Length: 41 lessons over six hours

Price: Basic subscription starting at $39.20/month

The (Non-Techie) Marketer’s Guide To SEO (MarketingProfs)

This program is designed for people who don’t have degrees in computer science or related fields. It breaks down how search engines work and gives you specific steps to help you maximize your ranking without needing to learn a coding language.

Length: Seven lessons, 60-90 minutes each

Price: $595 annual subscription

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) And Marketing (University Of California, San Diego)

Learn the basics of SEO and how to structure your website in this online course from UC San Diego. You’ll gain practical experience performing the duties of an SEO specialist while learning to use various online tools.

Length: Three credit hours

Price: $695

Search Engine Optimization (University Of Phoenix)

Learn to perform competitive analysis, create a keyword strategy and develop a crawler-friendly site architecture in this online course. This program will provide you with a solid understanding of SEO tactics and best practices.

Length: Three credit hours, five weeks

Prices: $1,194

Search Engine Optimization (University Of Cape Town)

This online course will equip you with work-ready skills to allow you to take on an SEO role with confidence. In addition to a practical understanding of best practices, you’ll also receive an industry-recognized certificate from Africa’s top university.

Length: 10 weeks with 10 hours per week

Foundations Of Search Engine Optimization (University Of Toronto)

Learn to perform competitive research and develop SEO strategies in this micro-course. You’ll gain a thorough understanding of how Google works and learn best practices to help you climb the rankings.

Length: 15 hours

Price: $559 Canadian

Other Resources

The great thing about the internet (aside from the fun of optimizing websites for search engines) is the absolute wealth of information it brings you. Here are a few other resources you can use to learn more about search engine optimization:

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn is more than a professional networking site – it’s also a great place to learn.

At the time of writing, there were 521 SEO-related videos and courses available. And with such a large number to choose from, there’s sure to be something of value for every skill level.

PluralSight

Online tech learning platform PluralSight is a great way to learn new skills – including digital marketing and SEO.

A great place to earn tech certifications, you can even use it to learn to code if you want to add that to your growing set of web skills. A free trial is available, and then plans start at $299 per year.

Udemy

Another learning platform dedicated to helping you level up your skillset, Udemy has a number of SEO videos.

Each video lesson is sold separately, but this gives you the benefit of choosing exactly which aspect of SEO you want to learn more about. Courses start at $14.99 each.

Skillshare SEO Courses

Skillshare offers a wide range of original videos on a variety of creative and tech topics, including, you guessed it, SEO.

It’s a great place to brush up on the fundamentals or focus on a specific area for improvement. Prices start at $159 per year for teams.

A Great SEO Never Stops Learning

One of the best things about working in SEO is that no two days are ever alike. And as long as Google keeps tinkering away with its algorithm, trying to fine-tune search results, there will always be a need for a skilled professional to help websites climb the rankings on search results pages.

The course discussed runs the gamut from free courses for absolute beginners to detailed classes on one specific aspect of SEO.

Just remember, no matter how long you’ve been doing it or how good you are, your education is never done. Keep learning – it’s the only way to ensure your website gets the ranking it deserves.

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AI Content In Search Results

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AI Content In Search Results

Google has released a statement regarding its approach to AI-generated content in search results.

The company has a long-standing policy of rewarding high-quality content, regardless of whether humans or machines produce it.

Above all, Google’s ranking systems aim to identify content that demonstrates expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

Google advises creators looking to succeed in search results to produce original, high-quality, people-first content that demonstrates E-E-A-T.

The company has updated its “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page with guidance on evaluating content in terms of “Who, How, and Why.”

Here’s how AI-generated content fits into Google’s approach to ranking high-quality content in search results.

Quality Over Production Method

Focusing on the quality of content rather than the production method has been a cornerstone of Google’s approach to ranking search results for many years.

A decade ago, there were concerns about the rise in mass-produced human-generated content.

Rather than banning all human-generated content, Google improved its systems to reward quality content.

Google’s focus on rewarding quality content, regardless of production method, continues to this day through its ranking systems and helpful content system introduced last year.

Automation & AI-Generated Content

Using automation, including AI, to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results violates Google’s spam policies.

Google’s spam-fighting efforts, including its SpamBrain system, will continue to combat such practices.

However, Google realizes not all use of automation and AI-generated content is spam.

For example, publishers automate helpful content such as sports scores, weather forecasts, and transcripts.

Google says it will continue to take a responsible approach toward AI-generated content while maintaining a high bar for information quality and helpfulness in search results.

Google’s Advice For Publishers

For creators considering AI-generated content, here’s what Google advises.

Google’s concept of E-E-A-T is outlined in the “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page, which has been updated with additional guidance.

The updated help page asks publishers to think about “Who, How, and Why” concerning how content is produced.

“Who” refers to the person who created the content, and it’s important to make this clear by providing a byline or background information about the author.

“How” relates to the method used to create the content, and it’s helpful to readers to know if automation or AI was involved. If AI was involved in the content production process, Google wants you to be transparent and explain why it was used.

“Why” refers to the purpose of creating content, which should be to help people rather than to manipulate search rankings.

Evaluating your content in this way, regardless of whether AI-generated or not, will help you stay in line with what Google’s systems reward.


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Seven tips to optimize page speed in 2023

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Tips-to-optimize-page-speed-in-2023

30-second summary:

  • There has been a gradual increase in Google’s impact of page load time on website rankings
  • Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics as ranking factors to measure user experience
  • The following steps can help you get a better idea of the performance of your website through multiple tests

A fast website not only delivers a better experience but can also increase conversion rates and improve your search engine rankings. Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics to measure user experience and is using them as a ranking factor.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to test and optimize the performance of your website.

Start in Google Search Console

Want to know if optimizing Core Web Vitals is something you should be thinking about? Use the page experience report in Google Search Console to check if any of the pages on your website are loading too slowly.

Search Console shows data that Google collects from real users in Chrome, and this is also the data that’s used as a ranking signal. You can see exactly what page URLs need to be optimized.

Optimize-to-Start-in-Google-Search-Console

Run a website speed test

Google’s real user data will tell you how fast your website is, but it won’t provide an analysis that explains why your website is slow.

Run a free website speed test to find out. Simply enter the URL of the page you want to test. You’ll get a detailed performance report for your website, including recommendations on how to optimize it.

Run-a-website-speed-test-for-optimization

Use priority hints to optimize the Largest Contentful Paint

Priority Hints are a new browser feature that came out in 2022. It allows website owners to indicate how important an image or other resource is on the page.

This is especially important when optimizing the Largest Contentful Paint, one of the three Core Web Vitals metrics. It measures how long it takes for the main page content to appear after opening the page.

By default, browsers assume that all images are low priority until the page starts rendering and the browser knows which images are visible to the user. That way bandwidth isn’t wasted on low-priority images near the bottom of the page or in the footer. But it also slows down important images at the top of the page.

Adding a fetchpriority=”high” attribute to the img element that’s responsible for the Largest Contentful Paint ensures that it’s downloaded quickly.

Use native image lazy loading for optimization

Image lazy loading means only loading images when they become visible to the user. It’s a great way to help the browser focus on the most important content first.

However, image lazy loading can also slow cause images to take longer to load, especially when using a JavaScript lazy loading library. In that case, the browser first needs to load the JavaScript library before starting to load images. This long request chain means that it takes a while for the browser to load the image.

Use-native-image-lazy-loading-for-optimization

Today browsers support native lazy loading with the loading=”lazy” attribute for images. That way you can get the benefits of lazy loading without incurring the cost of having to download a JavaScript library first.

Remove and optimize render-blocking resources

Render-blocking resources are network requests that the browser needs to make before it can show any page content to the user. They include the HTML document, CSS stylesheets, as well as some JavaScript files.

Since these resources have such a big impact on page load time you should check each one to see if it’s truly necessary. The async keyword on the HTML script tag lets you load JavaScript code without blocking rendering.

If a resource has to block rendering check if you can optimize the request to load the resource more quickly, for example by improving compression or loading the file from your main web server instead of from a third party.

Remove-and-optimize-render-blocking-resources

Optimize with the new interaction to Next Paint metric

Google has announced a new metric called Interaction to Next Paint. This metric measures how quickly your site responds to user input and is likely to become one of the Core Web Vitals in the future.

You can already see how your website is doing on this metric using tools like PageSpeed Insights.

Optimize-with-new-Interaction-to-Next-Paint-metric

Continuously monitor your site performance

One-off site speed tests can identify performance issues on your website, but they don’t make it easy to keep track of your test results and confirm that your optimizations are working.

DebugBear continuously monitors your website to check and alerts you when there’s a problem. The tool also makes it easy to show off the impact of your work to clients and share test results with your team.

Try DebugBear with a free 14-day trial.

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What Is User Experience? How Design Matters To SEO

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What Is User Experience? How Design Matters To SEO

User experience is the foundation of a site’s usability, and it’s an aspect of on-page SEO that many people overlook.

If your site lacks the positive user experience and ease of use that end users require to navigate your site, you’ll push visitors to your competitors.

In this guide, you’ll learn what user experience (UX) entails, the types of experiences, the difference between UI and UX, and why it matters to SEO.

What Is User Experience (UX)?

UX is how people interact with your website.

You’ll also find this term used for products, but we’re focusing strictly on websites at the moment.

If you have a, intuitive user interface design, users will have an easier time navigating your site and finding the information they want.

If you do have a digital product, such as a SaaS solution, this interaction will also occur on your digital product.

User experience elicits a couple of things:

In short, user experience can provide a positive experience with your website – or it can lead to frustration among users.

Note: Usability is not UX design. It’s a component of UX that works with design to create the experience your users desire.

What Are The Types Of User Experience?

User experience evaluation must look at the three types of UX design to best understand the needs of the end user.

The three types of UX include:

  • Information: One aspect of a content strategy that goes overlooked is information architecture. Time must be spent on how information on a site is organized and presented. User flows and navigation must be considered for all forms of information you present.
  • Interaction: Your site has an interaction design pattern – or a certain way that users interact with the site. Components of a site that fall under the interaction UX type include buttons, interfaces, and menus.
  • Visual design: Look and feel matter for the end user. You want your website to have cohesion between its color, typography, and images. User interface (UI) will fall under this type of UX, but it’s important to note that UI is not interchangeable with UX.

What Is The Difference Between UI & UX?

Speaking of UX and UI, it’s important to have a firm understanding of the difference between the two to better understand user experience.

User Interface

UI design is your site’s visual elements, including:

Visual elements on your site are part of the user interface.

UI definitely overlaps with UX to an extent, but they’re not the same.

Steve Krug also has a great book on usability, titled “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.” It was first published in 2000, and the book is a #1 bestseller today.

Steve’s insight from over 20 years ago (although we’re now on the 3rd edition of the book) provides guidelines on usability that include:

  • Desktop.
  • Mobile.
  • Ease of use.
  • Layouts.
  • Everything UX.

If there’s one thing this book will teach you about usability, it’s to focus on intuitive navigation. Frustrating website users is the exact opposite of a good user experience.

User Experience

UX works on UI and how the user will:

  • Interact with your site.
  • Feel during the interaction.

Think of Google for a moment.

A simple landing page that is visually appealing, but Spartan in nature, is the face of the Internet. In terms of UX, Google is one of the best sites in the world, although it lacks a spectacular UI.

In fact, the UI needs to be functional and appealing, but the UX is what will stand out the most.

Imagine if you tried performing a search on Google and it displayed the wrong results or took one minute for a query to run. In this case, even the nicest UI would not compensate for the poor UX.

Peter Morville’s user experience honeycomb is one of the prime examples of how to move beyond simple usability and focus on UX in new, exciting ways.

The honeycomb includes multiple points that are all combined to maximize the user experience. These facets are:

  • Accessible.
  • Credible.
  • Desirable.
  • Findable.
  • Usable.
  • Useful.
  • Valuable.

When you focus on all of these elements, you’ll improve the user experience dramatically.

Why User Experience Matters To SEO

By this point, you understand that UX is very important to your site’s visitors and audience.

A lot of time, analysis, and refinement must go into UX design. However, there’s another reason to redirect your attention to user experience: SEO.

Google Page Experience Update

When Google’s Page Experience Update was fully rolled out, it had an impact on websites that offered a poor user experience.

The page experience update is now slowly rolling out for desktop. It will be complete by the end of March 2022. Learn more about the update: https://t.co/FQvMx3Ymaf

— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) February 22, 2022

Multiple aspects of UX are part of the ranking factors of the update, including:

  • Intrusive adverts.
  • Core Web Vitals.
  • HTTPS Security.

You can run a Core Web Vitals report here and make corrections to meet these requirements. Additionally, you should know whether your site has intrusive ads that irritate users, and if your site lacks HTTPS.

Page performance works to improve your SEO. Google’s research shows that focusing on UX can:

  • Reduce site abandonment by as much as 24%.
  • Improve web conversions.
  • Increase the average page views per session by as much as 15%.
  • Boost advertising revenue by 18% or more.

When you spend time improving your site’s UX, you benefit from higher rankings, lower page abandonment, improved conversions, and even more revenue.

Plus, many of the practices to improve UX are also crucial components of a site’s on-page SEO, such as:

  • Proper header usage.
  • Adding lists to your content.
  • Making use of images.
  • Optimizing images for faster loading times.
  • Filling content gaps with useful information.
  • Reducing “content fluff.”
  • Using graphs.
  • Testing usability across devices.

When you improve UX, you create a positive experience for users, while also improving many of the on-page SEO foundations of your website.

Final Comments

Customer experience must go beyond simple responsive web design.

Hick’s law dictates that when you present more choices to users, it takes longer to reach a decision. You’ve likely seen this yourself when shopping online and finding hundreds of options.

When people land on your site, they’re looking for answers or knowledge – not confusion.

User research, usability testing, and revisiting user experience design often will help you inch closer to satisfying the SEO requirements of design while keeping your visitors (or customers) happier.

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